Why Ninja Gaiden Black Is the Best ‘Pure’ Action Game of All Time
If someone asks me, “Mitchell, what kind of video games do you like?” I honestly don’t know how to answer that question. I feel that you can find enjoyment in just about any genre, except those that really require some kind of enthusiastic or hobbyist level of interest, such as simulation car games, sports games, and walking games.
But if you say, “No, Mitchell, how are you feeling… your genre. A bundle of games that forces you to save on a sunken ship and abandon everything else. ” it’s simple. It’s an action game. Or, if you want to be more specific, the subgenre that has come to be known as “character action games.”
Ninja Gaiden Master Collection Reveal Screen
Character action games are my first love in the world of video games. When they’re good, they’re uniquely mine thanks to their challenging yet rewarding difficulty, flashy combat, and moments that make me feel good as the person orchestrating the chaos on the screen. Light up your brain.
But while we’ve seen the latest sequels and reimagines of classic series like God of War, Devil May Cry, and Bayonetta, there’s one 3D action game pioneer who hasn’t seen a new entry in over a decade. This is Ninja Gaiden. Because in my eyes, Ninja Gaiden Black is the best pure action game ever made.
When talking about the excellence of the Ninja Gaiden Black, we have to divide the conversation into three main points. So let’s start with the flashiest combat, and especially how it works both on the surface level and on the deeper levels.
Although they fall into the same genre, Ninja Gaiden’s combat is actually very different from games like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, or any other game within this genre. But especially when he focuses on DMC and Bayonetta, those games have always been about style and spectacle. They are the type of game where combat presentation is as important as combat function. Knock enemies up into the air, hit them with crazy aerial combos, knock them out, and pull them back. At higher levels of play, extend these combos with jump cancels and swap weapons on the fly. Let your creativity run wild when fighting your enemies.
and meanwhile Several That goes for Ninja Gaiden Black too (he’s a ninja after all, so there’s an innate coolness to his moveset) whose combat isn’t about style, it’s what it takes to stay alive against hyper-aggressive foes. The key to this is the fact that Ryu can do very powerful things against enemies that aren’t often seen in action games. It closes the distance almost instantly, has the potential to kill in one hit with decapitation, and can otherwise do a lot of damage without even falling off its head. Izuna Drop is a one touch kill his combo against most enemies with tons of splash damage. On top of that, Ryu also has access to a screen-clearing ninja attack that deals massive single-target and AOE damage.
The bottom line is that perhaps more than any other action game, once you understand Ryu’s abilities and some upgrades, playing as Ryu Hayabusa is one of the best power trips ever. .
And it’s all talking purely on a surface level.When you start digging deeper, Ninja Gaiden’s brilliant combat somehow shines even brighter. At its core is a dangerous reward mechanism that includes Essence and Ryu’s ultimate technique. In essence he has three forms. Yellow, the currency used to purchase items and upgrades in the shop, Blue Essence, which restores life, and Red Essence, which restores his one of Ryu’s ninja art uses.
However, the true value of Essence lies in the fact that if you start charging Ryu’s ultimate attack with Essence around him, Ryu will inhale the Essence around him and instantly charge the attack. You get a much larger Essence Orb, several times the amount of currency, health recovery, or ninja recovery. You can also hold down the block button to prevent Ryu from picking up the essence.
This “dance” is completely unique to Ninja Gaiden, especially when combined with Ryu’s many movement options, the variety of weapons he can wield, and his ranged weapon options, a combat system similar to this one. Jump on an enemy’s head, run up or across a wall, cancel a jump from an evasion roll, or use smoke grenades to lower an enemy’s defense or use the weapon’s unique properties to blast enemies into walls. All of this leads to fighting style. It’s very dynamic and frenetic, and with so many effective ways to deal with enemies, it always feels fresh.
Ninja Gaiden Black’s enemies are the most ferocious you’ve ever faced, so you need it. This leads to point 2.
Ninja Gaiden Black’s enemy AI is the main reason I love its combat so much, and why it hasn’t faded over the years. Many action games have highly reactive AI. So the AI likes to orbit your character and mostly react to your actions. They can only be blocked, evaded, counterattacked, or attacked. In short, they come to life when you start attacking them, but they usually don’t push actions.
In many other games, they may be more aggressive, but their attacks are very limited and relatively predictable, making it more difficult to juggle multiple enemies at once.
But in Ninja Gaiden Black, the AI’s operator word is relentlessThey always jump everywhere, dash in, pounce on you from a distance, and catch you if you bite a turtle.
This is not to say that this is the “right” way to play an action game. Diversity is the spice of life, and reactive AI gives players more opportunities, much like more predictable, fodder-like AI plays to the strengths of games like Devil May Cry. , it could fit into a more parry-focused combat-focused combat system. Style your enemies absolutely. Plus, there’s a lot of excitement that comes from mixing these basic enemies with the tougher ones that break these particular molds.
That said, Ninja Gaiden Black’s enemies’ hyper-aggressiveness blends nicely with the lightning-fast pace of its combat and Ryu’s mobility-centric fighting style. Even small battles with basic enemies have tension on them, and big battles that mix big lumbering demons along with quick demons that have the ability to move in and out very fast are your seat to survive. It’s a battle on the edge of
The third key to Ninja Gaiden Black’s gameplay is Ryu’s mobility. No one moves that move or incorporates it into battle like Ryu Hayabusa. A lot of this is due to the fact that his jumps are very low to the ground, placing more emphasis on horizontal movement than vertical movement. Able to jump quickly, it enhances the use of moves such as Flying Swallow and Guillotine Throw.
Ryu can also cancel evasive rolls with roll jumps, allowing him to move through the battlespace very quickly while limiting his vulnerability. Not only are they invaluable in combat, but they’re also a lot of fun to use to travel around the world.
Best of all, Ryu is super smooth to control. He can move seamlessly from the ground to the top of walls, from swallow flying to jumping off an enemy’s head to fast-charging his ultimate technique. His movements have a flow, and he enjoys being able to control them.
To be fair, though, if you’re planning on diving into Ninja Gaiden Black for the first time in 2023, you should know that not everything is getting old, just combat. is completely forgettable. Some of the deeper systems could have been explained better to make it easier for new players to get started. The menus are clunky and you have to constantly summon them to equip new weapons, use consumables, or use navigation. Through that world could have used better direction.
but it also action It’s a game, and when it comes to action, Ninja Gaiden Black is a masterclass in combat design and one of the games I return to every year. It’s all because of this particular blend of deep combat, challenging and aggressive enemy design, and unrivaled mobility options.
Mitchell Saltzman is IGN’s Editorial Producer.you can find him on twitter @jurassic rabbit